SAN ANTONIO, Texas —Port San Antonio thanked its customers and community partners for helping create over 600 new jobs on its campus in recent months, with more expected before the end of the calendar year.
Roland Mower, the organization’s President and CEO, highlighted ongoing redevelopment work totaling more than $100 million, including building retrofits and major infrastructure projects throughout the Port’s 1,900-acre platform, as it continues to attract key industries that are helping lead regional economic growth.
“Next year marks a century since this very large and unique San Antonio asset was launched in 1917,” said Mower, citing the birth of the former Kelly Air Force Base—the large complex which the Port has been redeveloping since the late 1990’s. “Over the past 100 years, opportunities have changed as the world and technologies evolved. Today, we continue to grow the flexibility of the Port’s assets to create an environment that allows San Antonio to capture new opportunities that are local, regional, national and global in scale.”
Mower pointed to the site’s 100-year legacy in aviation technology as the cornerstone of its present-day success. The Port’s industrial airport at Kelly Field is where military aviation first took flight at the dawn of World War I. Over the decades, Kelly Air Force base became a major aircraft maintenance center. That work continues today at the Port’s industrial airport at Kelly Field, with marquee names that include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Chromalloy and StandardAero occupying large facilities where they support an array of military and commercial aircraft and engines.
More recently, the site has become home for advanced manufacturing operations.
In late 2016 the Port welcomed Indo-MIM among its new customers. The India-based company specializes in manufacturing small precision components through an innovative metal injection molding (MIM) process. The San Antonio location is the company’s first in North America, where it will supply customers in the aerospace, automotive, medical device and other advanced industries.
Indo-MIM manufacturing operations in Bangalore, India. Construction of a similar facility is now underway at Port San Antonio.
Throughout 2016 the Port has been working with Indo to retrofit a facility totaling almost 100,000 square feet where the company expects to begin production in the coming months. It will begin with a workforce of about 100 employees, which it plans to grow to more than 300 by 2020.
Mower acknowledged the role that key area partners played in attracting Indo-MIM, including the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (EDF), which initially identified and engaged the firm as it considered several U.S. locations for its new facility.
The City of San Antonio and Bexar County also played important roles by providing the firm with incentive packages unanimously approved by the City Council and County Commissioners Court. These include a personal tax abatement and an Economic Development Incentive Fund (EDIF) grant by the City focused on the creation of new high-wage skilled jobs.
“We are proud to have partnered with the Port and local leaders in creating a powerful business proposition for Indo-MIM,” said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, President & CEO at San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. “And we are excited about what lies ahead for one of San Antonio’s newest manufacturers as it expands in this hemisphere. We look forward to our ongoing work to successfully compete for similar new investments in our community by innovative and transformative industries.”
Elsewhere at the Port, cybersecurity firms ramped-up operations in support of Department of Defense and private-sector clients throughout the region.
More than 1,000 cybersecurity experts—uniformed and civilian—are employed by the Air Force within the Port San Antonio campus.
Today, San Antonio has the country’s second-largest concentration of cyber professionals, and the Port campus has become a strategic center to support industry growth. Over the past five years the headquarters of the 24th Air Force—also known as the branch’s Cyber Command—have continued to add personnel within the Port campus. There are currently over 1,000 cybersecurity professionals who work in Lackland Annex—a large, secure office complex on the southeast part of the Port.
As a result of this activity, national firms are increasingly establishing operations near Lackland Annex to serve the 24th Air Force and be part of the growing industry hub that is also providing IT security expertise to other sectors, including banking, cloud hosting, aerospace, manufacturing and the medical field.
Several new companies moved to the Port in 2016 to better serve the 24th Air Force / Cyber Command as well as non-military clients, such as banking, manufacturing and medical operations.
In recent months, leading companies that include Maryland-based Fidelis Cybersecurity, Texas-based IOMAXIS, Alabama-based Radiance Technologies and locally-headquartered IPSecure established operations at the Port. And this year, Virginia-based Booz Allen Hamilton, a Port customer since 2010 who supports various local Air Force operations, including cybersecurity, expanded its space at the Port.
These companies have created dozens of new career opportunities, including network and intelligence analysts, engineers, and programmers, said Mower during his address.
With the Port’s available secure office space approaching capacity, he reminded those gathered at the event that this spring the organization launched an effort to develop a new complex, potentially totaling more than half a million square feet, specifically designed to meet the needs of cybersecurity and other technology firms.
The first phase of the project envisions a new state-of-the-art 80,000-square-foot building directly across the Port’s Roberson Building at 3133 General Hudnell Drive. The Roberson Building was inaugurated in 1999 as onsite redevelopment efforts began and has enjoyed a high occupancy for most of its life. It is currently home to many of the recent cybersecurity arrivals.
“The Port has done tremendous work to further cement our city’s standing as the place for this industry to thrive and innovate,” said Will Garrett, Executive Director of CyberSecurity San Antonio—a San Antonio Chamber of Commerce initiative that supports and accelerates the industry’s regional growth. “The expansion plans that Roland and his team have put forth mirror our ambitions for San Antonio to not only be a leading center for cybersecurity expertise in the U.S., but to be at the forefront of global innovation.”
Garrett further noted that the growing industry presence at the Port also presents strategic opportunities for the commercial cybersecurity sector to complement the efforts of defense operations in the region, particularly military aviation. “Today’s warfighters are among the world’s most sophisticated pieces of hardware,” he said. “Their operational success depends on highly complex, interconnected computer systems on board and on the ground. Ensuring their integrity is a national defense priority—one that the cyber community at the Port and elsewhere in San Antonio is uniquely positioned to address,” added Garrett.
Mower also pointed out that new and longstanding Port customers have been focused on hiring for an array of careers in recent months. Currently there are over 100 different job opportunities available through employers on the Port campus. These include aircraft technicians, cybersecurity professionals, programmers, logistics personnel, customer service agents, commercial drivers and several civilian opportunities through the Air Force. Another recent arrival, Grayco Communications, is seeking to fill numerous positions for well-paid cable technicians.
Up-to-date information about these and other employment opportunities at the Port is available at www.portsanantonio.us/jobs.
“The number and range of jobs being created at the Port reflects opportunities for all San Antonio,” said District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldaña. He also noted that, while the Port straddles Council Districts 4 and 5, about 75 percent of the approximately 12,000 people who work at the site reside in other parts of the community. “This diversity and growing activity creates energy and opportunities for the neighborhoods that surround the Port and also reflects on the Port’s standing as a true asset for our larger community and even our state.”
Mower also noted significant infrastructure and other strategic capital improvements that the organization is undertaking in partnership with public and private entities.
Several obsolete buildings came down this summer to clear the way to extend 36th Street further into the property.
This summer, the Port completed the demolition half a million square feet of obsolete warehouses along Kelly Field. This effort clears almost 200 acres of land for future hangars and other airfield-accessible facilities where new aerospace operations can be located. With current facilities totaling about 10 million square feet at the Port almost fully leased, the $5 million site preparation effort—a partnership between the Port, the City of San Antonio, CPS Energy and the U.S. Economic Development Administration—will reduce future construction costs and increase San Antonio’s competitiveness to attract aerospace expansions. It is one of only three sites in Texas which can accommodate significant aerospace projects that would require runway access.
In the heart of the property, the City of San Antonio is completing a half-mile extension of 36th Street. This represents the final phase of an approximately $60-million effort that began in 2005 to create a new two-mile thoroughfare into the campus. The extension provides redundant access for the increasing number of daily commuters and logistics activity at the site. The project will also enable the closure of smaller streets along Kelly Field for the expansion of aerospace sites.
Mower concluded his address by highlighting a $20-million project that is kicking off this fall to significantly increase residential options on the property. This year, the Port entered into an agreement with Dallas-based Granite Redevelopment Properties. The firm will upgrade almost 300 townhome-style units at the Port’s Billy Mitchell Village apartment complex--more than tripling the number of housing units on the property. The team will include locally-based developer Mission DG and other local firms contracted by Granite to carry-out various parts of the project.
The spacious townhomes range from 2-4 bedrooms. The upcoming $20-million project will accelerate the rehabbing process and add new amenities.
“It has been a tremendous year for us and our customers old and new and their thousands of employees,” said Mower. “We continue to lay the foundation that allows current and future industries at the Port to they grow strategically and compete globally in the century ahead.”
He noted that about 40 percent of the Port’s land has been redeveloped to date. “The remaining 60 percent, which we continue to tackle with our partners, represents opportunities for more good industries and more good jobs.”